Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Can you really fix something like this?
The 16th century Ferhadija mosque was the most prominent of 16 mosques destroyed in 1993 at the beginning of the Balkan war. The explosions that brought down the building and the complex around it in the center of the city shook structures and broke glass for miles around. The landmark was turned into a parking lot. Bosnian Serb and Banja Luka officials colluded in the horrible vandalism by most accounts and the war crimes Tribunal in The Hague has sentenced a man to 30-some years in prison for destruction of Muslim property that went along with murder and ethnic cleansing.
Mosques again stand throughout the city, though the number of Muslims is much reduced. My friend's aunt --who emigrated to Norway in the 1990s rather than watch neighbors killed or harassed -- said the area where she lives used to be 90 percent Muslim. Now it is about 10 percent at most. Rebuilding the Ferhadija Mosque, however, has been more troublesome than the lesser houses of worship. This was a UNESCO-protected structure when it was blown up so the restoration must be perfect and there are areas of contention. And a ceremony to mark the start of reconstruction in 2001 was marred by ethnic protesting and violence.
The troubled symbol is, as you can see, however, being resurrected.